Biden to stump for Newsom as California recall candidates make last push

Candidates in California’s recall election fanned out across the state and on media networks Monday for a final appeal to voters ahead of election day, with President Biden expected to make an evening visit to Long Beach to stump for Gov. Gavin Newsom.

After spending the day in Boise, Idaho, and Sacramento touring wildfire devastation and discussing his administration’s response, Biden plans to arrive in Long Beach for a 7 p.m. campaign stop with the governor at Long Beach City College.

The president‘s stop in California caps off the closing campaign act for Newsom, who has touted support from several high-profile Democrats in recent weeks, including former President Obama, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris returned to California to rally voters for the governor.

The Biden administration has a vested interest in the recall’s outcome. A Newsom victory could lift Democrats after a politically challenging several weeks for the president, whose popularity has taken a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s resurgence and the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. The election of a Republican governor could be devastating to Democrats nationwide, with the possibility that the new governor would appoint a replacement for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) should she retire and leave an open seat in the deeply divided Senate.

Long Beach busily began preparing for the presidential visit by sending a message to residents warning of street closures and traffic congestion.

“Incredibly proud that President Biden is visiting Long Beach on his first trip to California since his election as @POTUS,” tweeted Mayor Robert Garcia, a close ally of Biden and Harris.

Meanwhile, Republican front-runner Larry Elder made stops all over Los Angeles County, beginning in Monterey Park to present a medal to a World War II veteran and discuss his campaign platform, including his support for school choice and repealing vaccination mandates. He then went to Philippe the Original, a French dip sandwich shop by Dodgers Stadium, to talk with voters over lunch. His final campaign event for the day is expected to be a rally for volunteers at a hotel in Costa Mesa.

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) kicked off a “drive to election day” tour in San Diego on Monday morning, with an afternoon stop scheduled at Los Angeles’ Manual Arts High School, where he previously taught English.

Republican candidate John Cox also launched a bus tour through California, with an afternoon stop at the upscale French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley, a swipe at Newsom, who took part in a birthday gathering at the eatery last year. The governor’s attendance at the event — with several unmasked people outside his household — directly contradicted the state’s COVID-19 guidance to the public at the time, and ignited a wave of support for the recall from Californians frustrated with the governor for breaking his own rules.

Other replacement candidates finished their campaigns with a series of media interviews instead of trekking around the state. Republican former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer appeared on CNN and “Inside California Politics” over the weekend, and former Olympic decathlete Caitlyn Jenner, also a Republican, planned to participate in national media interviews on Monday, a campaign spokesperson said.

Some Republicans already began laying the groundwork to contest the election should Newsom win, despite no evidence of voter issues. Former President Trump weighed in with a statement Monday, alluding to the 2020 presidential election which he has continued to falsely paint as having been stolen from him: “Does anybody really believe the California Recall Election isn’t rigged?”

Newsom anticipated the pushback at a rally Sunday, telling a gathering of a couple hundred supporters in Sun Valley.

“It’s act two in the big lie. That’s what we’re up against, Democrats.”

Times staff writer Eli Stokols contributed to this report.

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